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Finished Shorts

A Host of Daffodils (2004)

Writer/Director/Producer:  Jane Clark

Cinematographer:  Patrick Grandaw

Production Companies:  FilmMcQueen Productions

Genre:   Family Drama

Cast:  Victoria Profeta, James Garde, Edith Fields


A Host of Daffodils (15 minutes) is FilmMcQueen's second short, and the director's most personal. It is shot from the perspective of a stroke victim in his hospital bed and based on the director's experience with her family after her father had a stroke. It explores the way a family with disparate ideas on lifestyle and religion can rediscover their love for each other through struggle and loss.


This film had distribution through Big Short Films, won awards, nominations and played 16 film festivals.

Festivals and Awards

Wildsound Film Festival

The Stony Brook Film Festival

* Nominated Best Short Film *

Female Eye Film Festival

* Nominated Best Short Film *

Final Cut Film Fest (Brighton, UK)

Humboldt Int'l Film Festival

* Nominated Best Short Film *

Woods Hole Winter Screening Series

Mallorca Int'l Film Festival


Flatfoot Fete

Los Angeles Short Film Festival

Woods Hole Film Festival

* Emerging Filmmaker Award*

Provincetown Film Festival

DC Independent Film Festival

Wilmington Film Festival

* Audience Honorable Mention *

Northampton Independent Film Fest


A Review


A Story That Promotes Meaningful Discussion 

reviewed: 2005-05-11 


There can be no doubt that in the wake of the Terry Schiavo case, films that deal with the subject of stroke and its long term implications will evoke strong reactions. Depending on the slant or position taken by such films the reaction can be extreme. "A Host of Daffodils," thankfully, does not really take a position on the much ballyhooed Schiavo subject, smartly deciding instead to deal with the emotions experienced by families forced to confront the loss of a dear loved one. 


Writer/Director Jane Clark's very personal short film "A Host of Daffodils" is an intentionally textured piece of filmmaking that effectively relates its story through the eyes of a family patriarch whose stroke has left him bound to a hospital bed. The father is visited by his two grown children and attended by his wife who dutifully sits by his bedside. Occasionally, he can communicate but the difficulty of talking is unbearable. The filmmaker achieves an intimate effect through cutting down the view from the camera lens either through the use of physically masking (which is an artificial way of creating a letterboxed look) or by a digital effect after the fact. Either way the technique is seamless and following a moment of adjustment works rather well. 


The images in "Daffodils" themselves are made a little blurry at times to correspond with what one would think would be the mood and visual limitations of the host taking us through his last few days. I was reminded of the techniques employed in a couple science fiction films of some note, "Brainstorm" and "Strange Days." Both of those somewhat arguably superficial films attempted to place the viewer in the mind of or looking through the eyes of another. 


Instead of the fly on the wall approach, getting one into another's head can be very unique but presents many pitfalls. One of the problems usually experienced by the filmmaker is the insistence or requirement that the camera be unsteady. This shaky cam technique can cause an audience to feel nauseous (see "The Blair Witch Project"). But in "A Host of Daffodils," director Clark manages to find a cool medium place with the camera which steadies it. This is probably because her host is bed bound and relatively immobile. Another supremely good modern example of this method can be seen in a film I saw a couple of years ago called "Uncut." That film was pretty raunchy and would unlikely make it to the traditional movie house, but might find its way to any video store other than Blockbuster. 


"Daffodils" is emotionally textured as well. The cast is large for a short film (this one is a little less than 15 minutes in length) and every significant character is developed in a meaningful way. The subject of the movie is depressing no doubt, but for those who have not been through the slow demise of a close family member, this might be instructional viewing. Having had first hand experience with the loss of my grandmother some years ago, I can honestly say that the tone of the film is right and the struggles of the family members over what to do is real. 


The things I didn't like about the movie were minor like a doctor depicted in the one scene. His performance and appearance brought me out of the narrative momentarily. The nurses shown seemed real enough. Some viewers might find the overall story flat and relatively uneventful. Such is the case for the telling of small actual tales. 


Still, this is a purposely restrained telling of an often politicized story that does not junk things up. It was good to see that intimate stories can find their way to the screen unadulterated by pressures to jazz things up in hopes of being controversial. "A Host of Daffodils" is a small story that needs to be seen and talked about afterwards. 


Jonathan W. Hickman 

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